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tavis: good evening. from los angeles, i am tavis smiley. tonight a conversation with william friedkin. includinge movies "the french connection" and "the quote a new e dish and will be released in connection with the 40th anniversary. edition will be released in connection with the 40th anniversary. we are glad you joined us for an interview with william friedkin, coming up now.
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♪ >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. -- tavis: director, producer, and screenwriter william friedkin is the iconic force behind so many iconic films, including "the french connection" and the movie it many consider to be the scariest film ever made, "the exorcist."
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that was released in 1973, which means it is 40 years old. with is a new edition commentary from friedkin. here is a scene from "the exorcist." >> is it coming out? >> yes, i think so. mother, mother! mother! stop!t tavis: as soon as that clip again to lay, i heard you whisper, i remember that scene. what do you remember from that scene? everything.r
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i worked on that film from beginning to end for four years. foreign versions as well. i supervised the dubbing and worked on subtitles in places like japan. there was a lot of give-and-take on translations. in japan the worst and you can , so aomebody is a fool lot of the four letter words had to go. the film was laced with them, i don't have to hesitate to say. we worked on the script even -- thehe model had been novel had been out for a year. we worked on the screenplay for another year. tavis: mr. friedkin -- >> call me bill. tavis: i will do my best, mr.
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friedkin. you said you did not set out to make a scary film. more spiritual journey, and i wonder if you might unpack . everybody sees it as the scariest film ever made, but that wasn't your intent. >> i understand that. i don't tell people they are crazy if they think that. they see it as a horror film, but it was based on an actual case. it was i inspired by a case that took lace in maryland. there were only three such cases in the 20th century and the catholic church that they authenticated as demonic possession, and they let an exorcism be performed. everything i have read, including the diaries of the doctors, nurses, even some of
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the patients in the hospital where the young man was a victim of this -- it wasn't a young girl. it was a young man. everyone tells the same story. the diocese keeps tabs on him. he has no memory of what happened to him. i set out with a writer to make a film about the mystery of faith. that was it. i knew it would be disturbing because this story is disturbing. we tried to avoid all the clichés of the horror film. what we did has become the clichés of a horror film. i understand it and recognize it. tavis: when you say the mysteries of faith, give me an idea of what you mean. >> there was a man who wandered
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in the desert of galilee with a robe and sandals. he was probably a literate. he never wrote anything that was published. there is no recording of his voice. there is no photograph. the first of the gospels according to saint mark came out 70 years after his death, yet trillions of people all over the believed this man is the son of god. manalled himself the son of . the gospels differ, but jesus referred to himself as the son of man, so the idea of people who have never read anything, never seen anything -- they didn't catch him on tv, on the tavis smiley show or something. all of it comes from the gospels, yet this church was founded in his name.
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a religion is all over the world, and people believe. i think of it as the mystery of love. you might meet somebody and follow in love with them. someone else meets the same person, and that doesn't happen. love is a mystery. so is life and faith. tavis: that is what faith is, things you don't see. >> but you believe. why? i am not a catholic, but i believe in the teachings of jesus. jesus is said to be an exorcis t. there were many accounts of exorcisms performed by jesus and his disciples. could what you said i take many different directions. i will pick one. we will be here for the next re-
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or four days talking about the gospel and this. the question is whether or not you were ever disappointed that all of that was ignored, people's, or went over heads, and it was just a horror movie. >> it was not. the head of the jesuit order, whose headquarters was in milan, he had his own print of "the ," and he ran it for people he knew and liked. it was controversial, but at the highest levels it was accepted and even believed by people who are not catholic. such as myself. what is the value, the
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spiritual value to our re- visiting this 40 years later? >> new generations. people weren't even born when this came out. i do believe the film is still very powerful and effective to new generations. i have seen it. the world has become a lot more cynical. church has lost a lot of followers, but the pictures still seems to carry a certain power. i don't put it out there. i don't control that. if there was no demand to have it seemed there would be no 40th anniversary blu-ray. according to the gospels with the exception of all, jesus did
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not come here to start a new .eligion jesus came to reform the jewish church, and the church and people in palestine were controlled by the romans, and jesus was tried for sedition, for going against the government, and the roman herod, they king controlled the diaspora, and jesus felt the synagogue had lost its way, and what he was trying to do was bring them back to the beliefs of moses and the 10 commandments from which they .ad widely strayed that was his purpose here on earth. the priests or rabbis did not like that, so they called on the roman governor's to try him --
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roman governors to try him for sedition. they asked the populace which of the three men he wanted spared, and they said rob us, -- bar but theho was a thief, trial was for sedition. the actual penalty for sedition was not crucifixion. it was stoning. were thousands and thousands of people who were crucified. there were others who were named jesus and called themselves the messiah who were crucified. after jesus there was a man called stephen who became saint stephen. there are cathedrals built to him all over the world. he claimed he saw a vision of jesus and the heavens standing
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at the side of god, and he was tried for sedition and stoned to death. there is a lot of strange things that are unanswerable and normal terms about the mission of jesus, why he came here, who he was. very little is known, although hisad four brothers, and brother james was actually the spiritual leader of the church but it all's death, comes down to the mystery of faith. you believe it, or you don't. i don't subscribe to the catholic church today, being opposed to dam near everything. pope? what about this new >> he seems very promising, doesn't he?
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he has been saying some wonderful things and doing some wonderful things, but then i remember how great jimmy carter seemed when he became president in 1976 and how he carried his own bags, said wonderful things, and i don't they key was a great president. i think he is probably the greatest after president we have ever seen. tavis: i have had him on this program many times, and i thought he would bite my head off when i asked if he thought after president. you sound like a the logician -- theologian. i wonder if you think hollywood is best equipped to deal with all this. >> i think not. that. it attempts to do
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>> they make other films with exorcisms in the title, but most i have seen our garbage. -- are garbage. they have no spiritual undercurrent. they are horror films. out ares i see coming very promising. i think there is about to be a renaissance in hollywood films, but for years most of the pictures were about a guy in a spandex suit flying around saving the world, or they are about vampires, comic books, video games. been most of what hollywood has produced. tavis: you do realize this genre is a billion-dollar business
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thanks to you. rock.on't live under a maybe a rock in bel air, but i know what is going on. i will tell you something. i accept no responsibility for the stuff that has come out with this and the title or anything done in that genre. tavis: whether or not you like it you do get some of the blame for this genre exploding over the years. >> that is why i hide out and don't come out in public that often. rayis: it is out in blu- right now, and there is a wonderful excerpt from the book. "the french connection" is one of my favorite films. all these years later, you think what? of the movieact
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god. i didn't want any of those people with the exception of royce rider. the film was passed up by everyone. it was only a man named dick van nuck who said, i don't know what this is, but i have a hunch it could do something. i have a million dollars in a drawer. if you can make the film, go ahead. it was under the radar, didn't .ave stars in any sense i was not a star director, yet opening day people showed up in long lines around the world, and that was very surprising to me. i think it's a good film, but i
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see it as a cop thriller a sickly. -- basically. tavis: it's a little more than that. "the exorcist" cast was not what we thought it would be. cast the studio was pushing either. at all. the studio for the lead mother wanted either audrey hepburn or joan bancroft or jane fonda. great idea. we offered the film to audrey hepburn. she was married to an italian doctor and living in rome. she said, i will do the film, but you have to come to rome. i would have to bring every single member of the cast to rome. it would cost a fortune.
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didn't speak italian at the time. i would be speaking to the crew in italian. we asked her to come here, and she said, i don't want to leave. we went to an bancroft. , i would love to do the film, but i am on the first month of pregnancy if you are willing to wait. at the time i said, after you have your baby you are not going to want to go back to work. we could wait for years. ellen burstyn was the last woman standing. how thisn't it funny stuff works? it worked. great. the little girl had never acted before. she was a straight a student in connecticut. a room.r in after seeing 2000 auditions in
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person or on tape i thought, we cannot even make this film. i started looking at girls even seven teen, and i thought we could not make this movie until her mother brought her into the office. the room, and i knew instantly she was the one. tavis: the rest was history. this book is called "the friedkin connection." i knew i was going to fall in love with whatever you said because i went to the first pages and saw some of the dedications and the folks you use in the first few pages, and i realized you and i have something in common. we love samuel beckett. one of the pieces of work i live line, evere by, the
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no matter, try again, sale better -- fail again, fail better. have had numerous failures. you are talking about a medley of my hits. i have had films that didn't work with the public that i loved just as much. a lot of people get one or two failures and they are out of here, but i kept going because i and to work in cinema communicate. it has been an adventure and an education for me, so i keep going. i didn't know "the exorcist" would be a hit movie or "the french connection." i don't think it had much to do with me. you could cite a lot of reasons, but at the time there were no reasons. every studio passed on these films.
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many of them passed twice. how do you process when you get to this point in your life and you see you have done , how dot is now iconic you keep from sticking your chest out just a little bit? >> you know the great helosopher mike tyson said knocked somebody out in the first round. interviewed byas howard cosell, and after the fight, he said, what did you think of his plan to stay away from you, to keep shuffling away and occasionally try to jab you? how did you feel about the plan? tyson said, everybody got a plan until he get hit in the face.
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don't got a plan. that is my philosophy. that's the way it is. i had a plan to have everyone of my films be a colossal success, until i got hit in the face. then you pick up, try again, maybe fail again, but fail better. tavis: i am listening to you trying to figure out what you might have done had this not been your calling, your vocation . >> i had no focus as a kid. inever paid attention school. i never went to college, not because we were too poor. we were, but if i wanted to go to college i would have found a way. i have spoken in many colleges, but i had no interest in school. all.n't prepare myself at i would have loved to be, dr., but i had no training -- to be a
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doctor, but i had no training. i was a bad boy, and it's a miracle i didn't go down for a long time like some of the kids i grew up with. reasons.e to a lot of the love of my mother and father really save me from having no focus as a kid. tavis: even though you didn't turn out to be a physician, i hope you think you made a meaningful contribution at this point. that's for others to say. i feel i have been lucky to acquire this location, the ability to tell a story other people can relate to, in the way i can relate to the stories of the new testament, though i am not a catholic, so i feel very
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fortunate, and that's about it. i am very fortunate. there are people far more talented than i am that can't get in the door. i know them, and i try to help them. to me it's all a matter of god's will, ambition, and luck. said talent. there are many untalented people making millions of dollars in the film business. tavis: i know some of them. follower. it has been a blessing to have you on this program. >> it has been my pleasure. i love your show. you are a great interviewer, and it is an honor to be here. tavis: there is so much to delve and times ofe livfe
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william friedkin. is out now.t" the extended director's cut and a wonderful theatrical version. there is a book that comes in blu-ray eersary duchenne, and there is the book and thereedition, "thee book itself, friedkin connection." you have to come again. >> just invite me. tavis: i think i did. that's it for our show for tonight. as always, keep the faith. >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at tavis: hi, i'm tavis smiley. join me next time for a conversation with jj abrams.
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that's next time. we will see you then. ♪ >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. you. thank you.
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>> welcome to "film school shorts," a showcase of the most exciting new talent from across the country. experience the future of film, next on "film school shorts." "film school shorts" is made possible by a grant from maurice kanbar. celebrating the vitality and power of the moving image. and by the members of kqed.

Tavis Smiley
PBS October 30, 2013 12:00am-12:31am PDT

News/Business. William Friedkin. (2013) Director William Friedkin. New. (CC) (Stereo)

TOPIC FREQUENCY Rome 3, Gospels 3, William Friedkin 3, Mr. Friedkin 2, Tavis Smiley 2, Friedkin 2, Catholic 2, Stephen 2, Audrey Hepburn 2, Ellen Burstyn 1, Bancroft 1, Jane Fonda 1, Byas Howard Cosell 1, Dr. 1, Helosopher Mike Tyson 1, Eligion Jesus 1, Maurice Kanbar 1, Dick Van Nuck 1, Samuel Beckett 1, Abrams 1
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